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Marooned! on Mars with Matt and Hilary

116 EpisodesProduced by Matt Hauske & Hilary StrangWebsite

a kim stanley robinson read-along podcast with regular forays into utopia. hosted by some friends who are into communism, science fiction and other stuff

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The Martians 8-9: Coyote and Michel, Condemned to Freedom

Hi! We’re still figuring out how best to handle our new remote recording and figuring out sound levels, etc., so if Matt is too loud and Hilary is too quiet—sorry! This is low-effort, low-tech, labor-of-love stuff. We appreciate you bearing with us!

This week we talk about two short stories, “Coyote Makes Trouble” and “Michel in Provence.” Even though they’re short, there’s tons to talk about!

First, some inane chatter about stupid techno-alternatives to walking, like Segways and electric scooters. And cars. That comes out of some delight in the fact that KSR writes SF stories about hiking, which reflects his commitment to the quotidian and everyday and something that really matters.

In “Coyote Makes Trouble,” we talk about Coyote’s place within the revolution, as an agent who also has to mediate between conflicting tensions within the movement. He wants to go faster than Maya, but also is not happy with the aggressive stance of the Reds, and he’s also constantly at risk of having his spy network infiltrated. Here he’s on a mission to do a banner drop. We talk about the relationship between action and strategy, violence and tactics, small demonstrations vs. large-scale revelations of power. We talk about the science-fictional quality of luxury liners and cruise ships and Coyote’s unique place in the books as someone from an entirely different place and background than the other members of the First Hundred, and we wrap up by discussing the place of laughter and joy within revolutionary movements like the ones going on today.

Our discussion of “Michel in Provence” starts at about 33 minutes with a call for 800 more listeners to the show per episode so we can make enough money for Matt to buy lunch two days a week, if we run ads for mattresses.

This is a lovely chapter, melancholy, but sweet and hopeful (as hopeful as Michel can be at any rate). It picks up after the events of “Michel in Antarctica,” charting a different history of human settlement of Mars. A different mission to Mars creates a different kind of Martian subject, one who’s only a tourist and can’t wait to get home. Nevertheless, Michel is beset by regret and self-recrimination, wondering what might have been. He thinks Mars might’ve been able to stand as a symbol…but we know that’s not what happened in the actually existing world of Martian settlement. It wasn’t a symbol, they didn’t exist as an emblem of togetherness. They created an actually existing system that had its own conflicts and contradictions that were certainly not harmonious. There’s also a different kind of life extension here, one that reinforces the status quo hierarchies of rich and poor. We touch on the elemental imagery that we’ve come to expect from KSR, especially in a Michel chapter, and discuss Michel’s various “projects.” Here he seems able to overcome the nostalgia that cripples him in the Mars Trilogy with regard to his beloved Provence and come to different terms with his attachment to place, or form a different attachment to Provence that we can see as hopeful (if still sad), informed by his brief time on Mars that he didn’t like. Maya, as always, helps him organize his feelings and actions around his project.

Next week, “Green Mars!” It's going to be a big one, so get your Heidegger, Sartre, and Melville ready!

New show motto: Expect things to get better!

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